Act I - Chapter 10: Do it for Ali

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The stone that can lead a man to the Goddess Prison, the greatest goal of any treasure hunter on the planet Itallis, and desire of our main character Ali Alhaven, has chosen our narrator Vinny, an assassin and an, at least formerly, uninterested party. What decision will he make going forward?

He goes to consult the knowing mayor Hise on himself being elected for this journey.

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By the time I reached Hise's study, the intensity of the sudden swell of emotions that drove me forward-a frustration and simmering rage with the very abstract introduction and demands of the philosopher's stone-it all began to dither to a shivering humility that slowed my steps. The wetness in my eyes confused me, my inability to hold my head up straight frustrated me: I didn't find myself swearing and kicking walls the whole walk there, despite feeling like I deserved to. The weight of the stone seemed to curtail any emotion not conducive to its goals-or maybe I just held them in without realizing it.

I wound up lightly rapping on the door to Hise's study, my jacket pulled tight around me as if I needed to survive the frosty chill of a snowstorm in Ill, as if my emotions brought me back to my last day there, my escape from the guild. Hise's muffled voice beckoned me from beyond the door, by name no less. Then, with the stone clasped in two hands, I eased through the door shoulder first.

Hise sat at his desk, this room as ornate as all others, decorated with ancient artifacts. A vase of purple flowers in the center of the room seized my attention-but they didn't move, or ooze from the ceiling or anything, thankfully; I exhaled a deep sigh of relief.

"Vinny, please have a seat," he said, motioning to the chair in front of his desk without looking from his papers, a pen smothered in his hand. Awkward black glasses draped his eyes-he had simply showered away the dried blood on his body and tucked his mysticism into the closet to catch up on his diplomatic duties.

I pulled the chair back with a screech, and eased into it with a chorus of creaks I paid far too much attention to. Hise's knowing smile replaced itself with an honest worry as he looked to me over clapped hands and leaned forward with sincerity.

"Have you decided, Vinny?" he said, hands folded in front of himself.

"You know, when you get gifted a melting room of flower petals and a booming voice speaking to you from the clouds, it's not much of a situation to make a meaningful decision in. I mean, it's just a bit difficult feeling like my feet are on the ground," I said, arms out, palms up. "Just a bit."

"I do not disagree," said Hise, a very, very clear expression on his face that detailed that he attempted to not say more. He did not want to argue with me. He did not wish to press and delve my thoughts regarding the stone's request, finding this so considerate, I did so myself: I paused, bowed my head, and really, really searched my mind for anything conclusive, but despite the purple and pink landscape the stone had led me to, I was only really seeing black internally.

"Well, you've convinced me of one thing," said Hise, removing his glasses, as if taking off his mayor disguise would allow him greater clarity. He pulled to his feet and turned towards the window of his office, standing in the orange sunset, gazing to a set of birds crossing the sky. "If Ali continues to pursue the goddess Prison with such vigor that he'll nearly throw his life away for it, it has been great foolishness to believe I could prevent him from doing so; it will actually be safer to allow him to pursue it. This is where I stand."

I just nodded quietly to myself.

"However, Vinny, this is your decision," said Hise. "The stone has chosen you and only you, and regardless of whatever it may suggest, this choice is yours and yours alone. You can simply set the stone down, never pick it up again, and you will never have to deal with a request it makes: you will never hear from it again."

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